Monday, March 16, 2015

Review 'Onward Toward What We're Going Toward' by Ryan Bartelmay
Set over the last half of the twentieth century, 'Onward Toward What We're Going Toward' is the epic story of the decline and fall of an American family.

Postwar newlyweds Chic and Diane Waldbeeser are determined to carve out a life for themselves and their son, Lomax, in Middleville, Illinois, but when ten-year old Lomax dies, Chic and Diane take refuge in religion, haiku poetry, doll collecting, food, and bowling as they try to make sense of their overwhelming grief and guilt. 
Paralleling their story is that of Chic’s older brother Buddy. Haunted by the suicide of his father, Buddy struggles to make a life with his exotic, na├»ve wife, Lijy—who is hiding a devastating secret of her own—while attempting to introduce the residents of Middleville to vegetarianism and Ayurveda massage, an unusual endeavor in midcentury Middle America. Coming headlong out of Las Vegas in the 1990s and bound for Peoria, Illinois, are Green Geneseo, a retired, widowed bank teller, and Mary Norwood, an aging pool hustler, looking for one last swing at the American Dream. The couple sideswipes the life of the now aged and widowed Chic, offering him one last chance to right a life that has been filled with sadness and tragedy.

My Review:


When I first read about ‘Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward’ the book sounded very interesting. An all American family, people searching for their place in the world. So when I was approached with the question if I wanted to read this book I agreed immediately. This is not the kind of book I normally read, but since I love trying new stuff I couldn’t wait to start reading.

In ‘Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward’ we meet Chic Waldbeeser and follow his life from the time he was a newlywed up until he is an old man. We meet Chic’s wife Diana, his brother and sister in law Ljjy and the woman he met later on Mary. Chic’s life has been filled with sadness and disappointments and know he has a last chance to change things around.

The thing that immediately grabs your attention when you start reading this book is the way Ryan Bartelmay wrote it. This book is very honest and leaves little to the imagination. It’s not a happy story but it definitely makes you want to keep reading. It’s a book that definitely makes you think about life and about decisions people make.

After reading this book I can conclude that this is not really my kind of book. It was interesting to read and the writing style was very impressive but I just couldn’t connect with the characters. I found the story just a little boring at times and since I didn’t really like any of the characters I felt myself not really caring what would happen to them .

I can totally imagine people being a fan of this book. But it was just not my kind of story. I loved the cover though and I definitely hope Ryan Bartelmay will keep writing because I think he definitely has a gift in writing pure and honest stories. 

My Rating:


About the Author:

Ryan graduated from the University of Iowa in 1998, where he was a member of the Undergraduate Writer's Workshop, and then went on to Columbia University to receive an MFA in fiction writing in 2005. His debut novel, Onward Toward What We're Going Toward, will be released in August 2013 by IG Publishing.

In 2005, Ryan won the Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers hosted by Boulevard. Other stories have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Sycamore Review, Opium, Phoebe: A Journal of Arts and Letters, and Sweet Fancy Moses.

Ryan has published non-fiction and other miscellanea in The Believer, Time Out: Chicago, Gadfly and a litany of trade publications and websites. He is the Dean of General Education at Kendall College in Chicago and has been a member of the Gotham Writers' Workshop faculty since 2005.

He lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter and two cats.

For more information about Ryan and his books please visit Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon.

Many thanks to Emily Burns and Little, Brown Book Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book.


  1. actually, it does sound good for me...I will check him out. Thanks Maureen!

    1. You should! I think this book got great potential.. It just wasn't my kind of story!
      Thanks for stopping by!


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